The House of Commons has tabled a proposal mandating workers to return to work at the Port of Montreal.
OTTAWA — Labor Minister Filomena Tassi has described the ongoing labor dispute at the Port of Montreal as a “matter of life and death.” The Liberal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tabled a controversial back-to-work bill aimed at getting some 1,150 longshoremen back on the job and to reopen the second busiest port in all of Canada.
The act, which Maritime Direct reported on prior, would require employees stuck in the strike would return to work after the bill would pass. It would also extend the previous collective agreement until a new one is negotiated in order to evolve the labor partnership.
“(That) this is literally a matter of life and death has been the message that has been communicated to me if medical products and lifesaving medical devices don’t get to hospitals and patients in a timely manner,” Tassi said during a House of Commons floor speech.
“All other efforts have been exhausted and a work stoppage is causing significant economic harm to Canadians — the government must act,” Tassi added in a separate comment CBC reports.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) said that the union’s wishes were being overlooked, as Trudeau’s government was merely following the wishes of the maritime employers and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
“Fundamental rights are being violated. It is shameful for a government that calls itself a defender of the middle class,” said Marc Ranger, the CUPE provincial director for Quebec.
CUPE national president Mark Hancock also transmitted a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau, calling for him to intervene.
Hancock wrote that Tassi’s legislation “would undermine the fundamental rights of our members and contravene Canada’s international commitments.”